The rising cost of consumers goods has its roots deeply embedded in freight transportation, and truck tolls will only exacerbate the problem for low-income families.
States such as Rhode Island and Connecticut that enacted so-called “truck-only” tolls are effectively creating another hidden tax that gets passed along to consumers. The recent Connecticut measure goes into effect in 2023 and anticipated revenue will run $45 million during the first year and exceed $90 million each year after.
“Let’s call it for what it is, a tax on every single person in Connecticut,” state Rep. Whit Betts, reportedly said after the measure passed along party lines.
Neighboring Rhode Island pickpockets truckers for upwards of $25 million annually. Combined, the states will siphon off a whopping $115 million each year to deal with decades of fiscal mismanagement. Every dollar the states take from the transportation sector will trickle down to food, products, and materials in local communities. In other words, everyday people are getting taxed to the tune of $115 million every year when trucks pass through the I-95 corridor or other regional roadways.
That sentiment is echoed by New England freight carriers such as Katie Childs of Tuxis-Ohr Fuel and J. Vitali Transportation located in Meriden, CT. Her 40-truck fleet is expected to incur in-state truck-only toll charges that could reach $500,000 annually. Because her trucks haul products such as gasoline, commuters can expect to get hit yet again at the pump.
“Tolls would be a direct pass onto the gas stations, which would then increase the price at the pump,” Childs reportedly said. “So, you have a customer in Connecticut who pays the gas tax, who pays tolls when they’re driving, and then the pass-through tolls for when I bring the gas to the gas station.”
As Connecticut follows Rhode Island’s poor example, low-income families are expected to suffer the most. Politicians who advocate for highway and bridge tolls in general claim heavy-duty vehicles do the most damage to infrastructure. That claim has not been widely accepted because the number of passenger vehicles far exceeds truck tires on the pavement. The truck-only toll argument also falsely insists the siphoned-off revenue helps taxpayers with road and bridge repair. However, the money often finds its way to pet projects, and the rise in goods and products gets hushed.
Common sense dictates that low-income families are forced to pay a higher percentage of their budgets on unnecessary inflation. Upper-middle-class and high-income earners can shrug off an extra 25 cents per gallon for their commute or a dollar more for a pound of beef. But these rising costs frequently force low-income families to choose cheap fast food over healthy groceries and tell children they cannot afford to drive to parks and beaches on the weekend. Politicians who target truckers to pay for fiscal failures make poverty collateral damage.